Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Conquering Pea Island

MST – Day 63 – 4-26-11 – Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge – 12.8 Miles
Ahhhh, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Vehicle access is prohibited and very few people set foot there.  We had driven the length of it on Highway 12 several times, but the idea of 12+ miles of uninterrupted beach walking was still a little intimidating.  No landmarks?  No breaks?  Just 12 miles of sand?  We’d learned that not all sand is friendly.  For most of our Outer Banks walking it was very easy to get off the beach and onto the road, but along Pea Island the terrain between is sometimes wider and thick with scrub vegetation.  Afternoon thunderstorms were in the forecast, so we needed an exit plan.  And the plan was…go, go, go.  We were determined to conquer Pea Island.
Walking under the last house in Rodanthe

Dead shark

Requisite “liberty” photo with my hat

Footprints – nobody here but us MST hikers

Or...what’s that flash of blue over by that sand dune?  Is it possible there is someone else here?  I think this artist was as surprised to see us as we were to see him. 

One landmark from Scot’s book – the smoke stack of a shipwreck visible at low tide.  At this point we knew we’d walked about eight miles.
A ray or a skate?  There were many of these washed up  on shore.

I love this photo.  We watched these clouds roll in for what seemed like hours, but they didn’t get close enough to feel threatening.
At last we saw the beach curving to the left as we approached the Oregon Inlet and the Bonner Bridge.  We picked a sand dune to climb over and then followed an old roadway to the parking area where we’d left our car.  Pea Island:  done!
Herbert C. Bonner Bridge one more time

Tomorrow is our last day and we’ll be hiking to the terminus of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail at Jockeys Ridge State Park.  Before we checked into our hotel in Nags Head we stopped at the park to get an idea of what was in store.   Superintendent Debo Cox and the other folks at the visitor center made a big to-do about us coming through.  One enthusiastic employee, Laura Arrington, agreed to meet us at the summit tomorrow.  My maiden name is Arrington and Laura and I had a nice chat as we tried to determine if we were related (sadly, no). 
After tomorrow Danny has three more days of road walking and I have more than a few days of biking to complete the MST.  Still, summiting Jockeys Ridge is a major milestone in this adventure!
Danny’s blog entry is here.

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